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November 15-21, 2006

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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

By Michael Alexander Schreiber

America is a culture of opposites: liberal and conservative; the haves and the have-nots; dairy and soy. Tack skinny and fat on to that list, too. Europe may have a much-discussed "clash of civilizations," but American culture is torn between chunky couch potatoes and skin 'n' bones sex-appeal.

Radical independent filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment takes unusual aim at one source of our poundage, producing Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, a mocktacular film that attacks America's fast-food corporate culture. Unlike Morgan Spurlock's homerun Super Size Me, Kaufman's latest flick targets youth culture by targeting the fast-food industry in inimitable Troma style. (A white New York male, Kaufmann directed such other hits as The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet and Terror Firmer. He cofounded Troma Entertainment with Michael Herz, and regularly announces his desire to be reborn as a black woman.)

In Poultrygeist, a military-themed fried-chicken franchise named American Chicken Bunker builds a restaurant on the site of an ancient burial ground. Supernatural forces "possess" the food and those who eat it. With a guerrilla-style filmmaking, other themes in Poultrygeist are militarism, anti-Muslim racism and a healthy dose of gender politics. The story was written by a fast-food employee and produced with support from animal-crazed PETA. With its explicit political message, Kaufman's latest is sure to ruffle feathers within many circles. Poultrygeist will be in theaters January of 2007.

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